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How to deal with a disappointed Leaving Cert student 

Disappointment is part of life and it can be seen as an opportunity to learn something. An exam is a measure of your knowledge of a set of questions, not a measure of your intellect, or of your worth as a person or lovability. We use less than 2% of our brain function and therefore all have vast potential.

A person’s academic achievements are a result of learning opportunities, home environment, and parent’s attitude to learning, motivation, interest and level of emotional and social maturity. Confidence is central to the acquisition of knowledge and for our child to feel confident, we need let them know how highly intelligent they are, regardless of their knowledge of a particular subject.

Therefore, belief in your child is crucial to them feeling confident. Tell your child if they are anxious “You are not an exam result”. Encouragement and praise gives heart to your child’s efforts to learn. Encourage your teenager to set some goals that are achievable –maybe learning to drive or finding a part time job so when they achieve something, confidence is restored.  They will understand the commitment required to achieve something, and appreciate the satisfaction of achieving their goal.

There have never been more educational options available for young people. This is a time for your young person to be gentle with themselves, to take time and make no rash decisions. Just because they get a CAO offer does not mean they have to take it. Ask them ‘Do you want this? If it is not what you want, then do not take it and end up dropping out of College later.

Talk together to the School and Career Guidance and to others in a position to offer relevant advice. With the CAO offer, you are given time to decide; therefore it is essential not to make a rushed decision which may be regretted later, get good advice and look at all the options.

#1 Allow them time to be disappointed
#2 They need you to listen to them
#3 Allow time for feelings to dissipate, do not try to ‘fix it’
#4 Encourage them to challenge themselves in other areas
#5 Your belief in them & new opportunities builds confidence
#6 Do not burden them with your disappointment
#7 ‘The man who never made a mistake, never made anything’
#8 They need support to work through the options
#9 Believe in them and remind them of their strengths
#10 There have never been more options available
#11 Call the Helpline on 1 800 265 165

This article was written by Sheila O Malley. Sheila owns Practical Parenting and offers courses, 1 to 1 support and School Talks as well as Company talks on Parenting and wellbeing. See for details. Book a One Day Saturday course from 10-4pm with a friend or partner and get the tips to need to support you in the hardest job you ever do!